The world has been rocked by the loss of Queen Elizabeth II. It’s not everyday that a Queen dies and it’s not every day that we get a film that perfectly captures the nuance, drama, tragedy, and inherent silliness that comes with being royalty. As we reflect and mourn, here are 8 movies about royalty to watch:
King Ralph (1991)
King Ralph begins with tragedy, as the entire British Royal Family is wiped out after being electrocuted while having their portrait taken. But don’t worry, because the last surviving heir – an American Vegas lounge singer, Ralph Jones – is still alive and brave enough to take up the mantle of King of England!
Simultaneously a star vehicle for John Goodman and a loose adaptation of the 1980 novel, Headlong – King Ralph is a fish out of water story that features every 90s studio comedy cliché you can think of: an over the top high-concept premise, broad cultural stereotypes, and a handful of dated jokes. Still, there’s something charming about a movie that just allows Goodman to Rock Out.
Marie Antoinette (2006)
The movie that raised a thousand Tumblr gif-set creators. These days, a lot of film circles see Sofia Coppola’s – then disappointing – follow-up to her critical darling Lost in Translation, as a masterpiece. But Marie Antoinette remains criminally underrated.
Far from the typical biopic, Marie Antoinette has the soon-to-be beheaded queen dancing to The Strokes, wearing converse, and eating aesthetically delightful desserts and cake. All while painting a portrait of a young girl simultaneously lavished with everything money can offer and drowning in loneliness. Critic Leah Rozen once called Marie Antionette a pop music video – I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Hot mom? Check. Bad dad? Check. Disappointing kids? Check. Heartbreaking movie that effortlessly blends comedy, drama, and aesthetics? Check, check, and check.
Royal Tenenbaums might be a little forgotten in Wes Anderson’s filmography, where films like Moonrise Kingdom and Grand Budapest have become his calling cards. But there’s something about The Royal Tenenbaums that can tug at your heart and completely shatter it. It also has G.O.A.T Gene Hackman in one of his final film roles.
The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)
There are a lot of Macbeth movies to pick from (I’m sooo sorry Orson Welles) but I ultimately landed on featuring this modern and sleek venture into the world of witches, murder, and the most toxic of loves.
It might not be the best Shakespeare adaptation but there is something compelling in just watching Joel Coen (directing his first film without his brother) getting together with Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington – and just having some fun with Shakespeare.
King of Comedy (1982)
Move over Joker! You fake usurper to the throne!
Before Todd Phillip’s 2019 take on the Clown Prince of Crime, there was Martin Scorsese’s take on failed comedian Rupert Pupkin in King of Comedy. Weird to think that this was a box-office bomb on its release – maybe its commentary on the media culture of the time hit way too close to home for the 80s. Or maybe there was something too unnerving for audiences about the way the movie manages to be funny as hell and fiendishly scary.
The scenes where Robert De Niro’s Pupkin performs his stand-up routine are especially interesting. He’s no Don Rickles – but he isn’t outrageously bad either. There’s something real to his delusion. And it’s scary to see how we find ourselves identifying with him.
Princess Mononoke (1997)
A watershed moment for Japanese animation and maybe responsible for introducing a generation of film nerds to the artform – Princess Mononoke definitely makes the argument for being a film that everyone needs to watch.
Princess Mononoke is a marvel of 2D animation– while also simultaneously forcing us to confront the reality of environmental decay. Humans and nature are one – and yet there is an inescapable power imbalance that we’ll never overcome….
We love you Miyazaki! We really love you!
Seems like there has been a resurging interest in Princess Diana in the past couple of years, from documentaries to portrayals on Netflix’s The Crown. But Kristen Stewart’s turn as the late Princess feels different. The film is less interested in running down Diana’s time married to Prince – now King – Charles, or recreating her most iconic outfits and moments.
Instead, Spencer, much like Marie Antoinette, paints a portrait of a woman so utterly lonely in every aspect of her life – despite being married with children and everyone in the world knowing her name. The film has a triumphant ending – but one that becomes bittersweet when you remember her real life fate.
Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019)
Contenders for the throne arise from hibernation and cause some havoc. So, the King of Monsters has to whoop some ass if he wants to keep the crown.
Nowhere near the best of 30+ Godzilla films that have been released since this movie star’s 1954 debut. It has way too many unsatisfying human characters and takes itself too seriously. But King of Monsters still has something that even the most austere Godzilla fan can enjoy.
The throne remains his.
Tatiana Nunez is an English major on the Writing and Rhetoric Track and is in her Senior Year at FIU. Her favorite films include The Handmaiden and Heat. And her go-to genres are horror, action, and erotic thrillers.